23 Jul 2019

New Eyes and Ears for the Forest

By Hum Gurung

The Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) in Malaysia just deputized 30 Honorary Wildlife Rangers from civil society organisations for the first time since its inception. The training course was provided to members of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Kuching Branch through a unique partnership between the government and non-government organisations. The training course occurred 9-11 July, 2019.

Sarawak Forestry Corporation and Malaysian Nature Society jointly sponsored the training under a European Union funded and BirdLife International led forest governance project in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The Forestry Department Sarawak started the Honorary Wildlife Ranger programme in 1998 with the aim of getting members of local communities to work hand-in-hand with the government to protect wildlife, forests, and natural environments. Honorary Wildlife Rangers play an important role in managing protected areas such as national parks, and help to monitor illegal activities, such as poaching, by reporting the actions to relevant government agencies.

“The training has given MNS members an understanding of the challenges in conservation efforts faced by the authorities” said Au Nyat Jun, Chairperson of MNS Kuching Branch.

The capacity building support of civil society can help to protect the one million hectares of protected areas in Sarawak State of Malaysia. “They can be the eyes and ears of enforcement and compliance of laws, as well as promoting conservation in their own areas of contacts,” said Oswald Braken Tisen, General Manager of Sarawak Forestry Corporation.

The course included both theory and field activities at Matang Wildlife Centre, including training on biodiversity, habitat types, wildlife status, threats, and roles and responsibilities of an Honorary Wildlife Ranger. It also included training on existing laws and regulations, such as the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998 and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).The closing ceremony concluded with an overview of the forest governance project in Southeast Asia and Pacific region, along with distribution of certificates to all training participants.